Wild well caused days of trouble
Seventy-six years ago on this week the people of Norman were trying to stay indoors, especially when the wind was out of the north, to protect themselves from a rain of crude oil. The unwanted petroleum came from 20 miles away, gushing out from under a part of south Oklahoma City then known unofficially as Bodine City. The well was the Mary Sudik No. 1, and it blew in on the morning of March 26, 1930. It earned the never-to-be-forgotten title of the Wild Mary Sudik in the 11 tense days before it was capped. Ruth Sheldon Knowles of Tulsa wrote about the runaway well in her book, "The Greatest Gamblers," published by McGraw-Hill in 1959. The drilling bit found the oil sand at 6,471 feet, and the crew started to complete the well in a routine fashion. "The men carelessly neglected to keep the hole full of mud," Knowles wrote, "which would have sealed off the flow of oil and gas until they could set the pipe." There was a roar, and the tools still hanging in the well came flying out. Stacked heavy drill pipe was thrown about the area. And then the oil appeared with the gas. "The Wild Mary Sudik was the sensation of the world," the author said. "The thought of a big city held at bay by an uncontrollable dangerous force of nature captivated the imagination of people everywhere." Twice a day they could hear Floyd Gibbons, a former famous war correspondent, broadcasting from the Sudik dairy farm by a nationwide radio hookup. The oil fell as far as the south edge of Norman, which of course was not nearly as spread out as it is now. "On the sixth day," Knowles wrote," the wind shifted to the south and now Oklahoma was blanketed with gas. The citizens were panic-stricken." People for miles around were forbidden even to light a match to start a fire to cook a meal. A special connection stopped the flow, but only for a little while. And when the flood came again the oil and gas, that had jumped straight up before, now sprayed in every direction "like water from a hose with a thumb over the end." On the 11th day the well was finally capped, with a technique invented on the spot, and then the cleanup began. "Thousands of acres of oil-soaked land had to be plowed up," Knowles said. "Hundreds of buildings had to be repainted. Almost a quarter of a million barrels of oil were skimmed from pits, ravines, ponds and streams. How much oil and gas was wasted nobody could estimate." The original Mary Sudik and her husband had left their farm and gone into hiding. "She was offered a vaudeville tour and a part in a movie," Knowles wrote, "but the quiet farm wife wanted only to forget her famous namesake. Soon the Sudiks moved from their ravaged farm to a modest home in Oklahoma City to enjoy oil in the less hectic form of royalty checks." The Mary Sudik No. 1 was not the discovery well of the field for which the capital city had waited so long, as some have written, and probably not the biggest producer, but it is the one that will always be remembered."
[July 18, 2009 The Norman Transcript]
"In Oklahoma City last week, housewives took clothes in from lines, shut their windows. Industrial plants warned their firemen to be ready to bank furnaces on a moments notice. In outlying towns men looked into the sky and cursed when a change of wind suddenly brought a downpour of of fine-blown oil. Causing all of this trouble was one of the biggest gushers ever blown in, No. 1 Mary Sudik, located in the Oklahoma City field. Last fortnight it started as a mammoth gasser flowing at the rate of 200,000,000 cubic feet a day. Slowly the gas turned to oil which shot skyward completely out of control, running at a rate of more than 2,000 barrels an hour. After long labor engineers succeeded in clamping a master gate valve on the well, only to see the connections ripped apart, tossed into the air. A second attempt, however was successful. Mary Sudik was declared conquered. Although Indian Territory Illuminating Co., Cities Service subsidiary, will benefit from the gusher, co-benefactors will be Vince Sudik and his wife, Mary. In 1903 the Sudiks came from Nebraska, claimed and farmed the now-famous plot of land, will collect about one-eighth of the oil profits. Last week Mrs. Sudik was not able to see the gusher. She was visiting a hospital where her first grandchild had just been born. Said she, "my good fortune is having such a lovely granddaughter." Vince Sudik, however, announced his early retirement from active agriculture. Especially satisfying was No. 1 Mary Sudik's performance to oilman Henry Lathan Doherty, Master of Cities Service. For many years it has been the Doherty policy to back the opinion of geologists to the limit, especially when they suggest purchasing land that has been previously tried and given up. In this fashion Doherty interests developed into rich fields the Little River, Bowlegs, Seminole and Oklahoma City pools. Last week, while No.1 Mary Sudik was still spouting, Manhattan newspapers revealed that Cities Service has again followed this method by acquiring a 51% option on North European Oil Corp. Although there was no new item to justify printing the report last week, accounts told what had been in the April issue of Fortune three weeks ago: Germany has produced some oil, mostly from surface drilling; North European Oil has been formed by Manhattan Capitalists to acquire leases on some 2,000,000 acres of this land where modern deep-drilling methods can be applied. Active on the the New York Produce Exchange, North European Oil last week rose from $3.95 to $5.75."
[Time magazine--April 14, 1930]
The early morning of March 26, 1930 was not a quiet one. Things were never quiet in the year-old Oklahoma City oil field. The shouts of men, the whirring of drills, the hissing of gas and rythmic ka-chunk of the pumps produced a cacophonous symphony of economic activity. On clear nights the clang of tools on pipe could be heard from the drilling sites centered at SE 59th and Bryant all the way to Belle Isle. For the crew working on the #1 Mary Sudik well, now down around 6,400 feet, it had been a long, noisy night of drilling. a Czech family who had made the 1889 Land Run into the territory. They had purchased 160 acres in 1903 for a dairy farm. The Sudik farm was quite successful and the couple had recently purchased a home in Capitol Hill in preparation for their impending retirement. They hoped leasing the mineral rights on their land would give them enough money to pay their property taxes. The well was named for Vince Sudik's wife, Mary. The crew was one of many for the Indian Territory Illuminating Oil Company (ITIO) working in the area. The exhausted crew forgot to secure the hole with mud before leaving and just as they climbed off the derrick, a deafening roar boomed out as a pocket of gas exploded through the hole. It was soon followed by a gush of oil propelled by the force of the exploding gas. The oil had a mixture of fine sand (Wilcox sand) in it and the force of the gusher made the sand act as a cutting tool, slicing pipe and eventually ripping the top off the derrick. Crews in the area rushed in to cap the well, but each time the Mary Sudik blew out the fittings. By the end of the day she was ‘Wild´ Mary Sudik. Hours became days and crew after crew from the army of ITIO engineers and veteran drillers from all over Oklahoma came in to try and tame ‘Wild´ Mary Sudik. Nothing seemed to work. Crews had to don goggles and wear scarves over their faces to prevent breathing in the gritty black crude. They used hand signals to commmunicate with each other because the roar was so loud that they couldn´t hear even the shouts of the nearest man. Meanwhile ‘Wild´ Mary was blowing (by some estimates) 20,000 barrels of oil and 200,000,000 cubic feet of gas into the air every day. A strong March wind blew out of the north and sprayed oil all over the countryside south of the drilling site. As far away as Norman - 12 miles - buildings at Oklahoma University were stained with a fine greasy mist. Chemists said the oil had mixed with the gas to form oily globules much like soap bubbles which were carried on the wind and then would burst upon hitting something and leaving a small splatter stain. Fortunately, no population centers were in too much danger but there were reports of some farm structures and even automobiles catching fire when the flammable mist fell on them. ‘Wild´ Mary Sudik roared on. She attracted the attention of the national news media and soon her exploits were reported all over the globe. Reporters from the New York, Chicago, San Francisco and even London newspapers came to interview Mary Sudik, who seemed more eager to talk about her new grandchild than the gusher which bore her name. Floyd Gibbons, an early radio superstar, made two daily reports about ‘Wild´ Mary Sudik on his national broadcasts. Soon a week had passed and ‘Wild´Mary roared on. Crews from all over the country came to try and rein in the ferocious well. After 11 days, on April 6, a crew led by H. M. Myracle, using an apparatus engineered especially for the wild well, was able to swing a die nipple in place and cap the hole. The Sudik well was finally tamed, but no one will ever know how much oil and gas was wasted trying to cap her. We do know that 211,859 barrels of oil were retrieved from pits and trenches dug around the derrick to catch as much oil as possible. And farmers had to be compensated for the thousands of acres of farmland soaked by ‘Wild´ Mary´s oil. There would eventually be thirteen wells on the Sudik lease and tens of millions of barrels of oil would be drawn from it. Some of the wells produced for over 40 years. The Sudiks obviously became very wealthy. Did they move to Beverly Hills? No, they stayed right there in the little house on SW 24th in Capitol Hill - Mary had to be near her grandchildren.
[Sources: Oklahoma Historical Soceity, OKC Metropolitan Library Essays and Daily Oklahoman and Tulsa World Articles.]
Obituaries of the Sudik Family
Services for Vincent Sudik, 66 years old, on whose property the famous "Mary Sudik well" of 1930 came in will be at 2 pm. Tuesday in the Capitol Hill chapel, with burial in the Bohemain cemetery (National Czech Cemetery now). Sudik died of a heart attack Saturday morning at his home, 536 Southwest Twenty-fourth street. He came to the United States from Cqechoslovakia when he was about four years old, and came to Oklahoma in 1903 from Nebraska. His wife, a daughter, three sons and eight grandchildren survive.
[Printed: Daily Oklahoman Jun 30, 1940 Page 18]
Death came to a 63-year-old woman here Thursday afternoon, and with it came an end to the city's most colorful figure in our history. Mrs. Mary Valish Sudik "mother" of the famous "Wild Mary" well which she never quite accepted was exhausted. She died at Wesley hospital at 3:45pm Thursday following a week's illness. Her death was immediately preceded by internal hemorrhages, members of the family said.
When the "Wild Mary" broke through at 7a.m. March 26, 1930, Mrs. Sudik was not on the farm where she lived with her husband southeast of the city. She was too busy awaiting the birth of her first granddaughter at Wesley hospital. And she remained always "too busy" to be impressed with it. Vincent Sudik and his wife Mary came to Oklahoma county from Nebraska in 1903. They settled on the farm that was to bring them oil riches. The "Wild Mary" blew in as a hugh gusher on that morning in March. It roared through newspaper headlines for a week telling America of Oklahoma City's vast new oil field. Twice the historic-producing well was shot in, and twice it blew wild. It was described as one of the most remarkable wells in the history of the oil industry" and the oil boom was in full sway in Oklahoma City. And to Mary Sudik, whose name the well bore, it brought fame in newspapers and magazines over the entire nation. Mrs. Sudik, unimpressed with the fortune she had acquired, was shy of the public. She avoided publicity of any kind and moved into the home which was her residence at the time of her death, 536 Southwest Twenty-fourth street. Her family, as on the historic morning of the well's appearance was always her major interest. Mrs. Sudik fought through court battles for the custody of her two grandchildren, Virginia Lee Sudik and Evelyn Jean Sudik. The two girls, children of Mary Sudik's son Orie V. Sudik, were left in custody of their father, who lived in the family home on Twenty-fourth street. Upon the death of her husband in 1940, Mrs. Sudik was named heir to the estate valued at $30,646. However, the Sudiks never admitted that they made a fortune from the wells, 13 of them, which came in on their land. In 1933, Sudik was reported to have said his monthly royalty checks from the 10 wells that were producing, including the "Wild Mary" totaled only about $200 a month. The phenomenal well brought scores of oilmen, national attention and fortune to Oklahoma City. It brought all that to Mary Sudik, too, but she preferred her simpler farm life. She was born in Czechoslovakia, the daughter of farmers who came to the United States when she was a child and settled in Nebraska. Life to Mary Sudik meant the things which seemed most like the simple background which was hers. She planted flowers around the modest Capitol Hill home and joined garden clubs. The sound of her grandchildren's laughter was worth more than the roaring boom of the "Wild Mary." Mrs. Sudik knew what she wanted for herself and her family, and the short, gray-haired woman got it. The privacy which she valued so highly was kept intact at her death and throughout the fillness which preceded it. Members of her family were the only persons present. Services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday in the chapel of the Capitol Hill funeral home. Burial will be in the Bohemian cemetery. Mrs. Sudik is survived by a daughter, Mrs. Cecila Straka, Moore; three sons, Otto, Sentinel; Orie, 1536 Southwest Twenty-fourth street, and Herbert, 433 Southwest Forty-sixth street; three brothers, Anton Valish, Julius Valish and Tom Valish, all of Schuyler, Nebraska and nine grandchildren.
[Published: Daily Oklahoman, July 17, 1942 Front page]
Orie V. Sudik
Orie V. Sudik
Son of Vincent and Mary Valish Sudik
buried National Czech Cemetery
Service of Orie V. Sudik, son of the late Mrs. Mary Sudik owner of one of city's most famous wells, the "Wild Mary Sudik" a gusher which roared in 15 years ago and ran wild several days will be held in the Capital Hill funeral home at 2 pm Friday. His home was southeast of the city. Sudik was killed at work Tuesday. He died on the deck of a well in the Moore field just a few miles south of his birthplace on the Sudik homestead, site of the famous gusher.
Cause of his death was said by Clayton Lunch, driller on the well, to have been from a length of casing that broke loose from its mooring and struck him from the derrick floor. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Opal Sudik; three daughters; Janette 3, Evelyn 12 and Virginia 15; a sister Mrs. Joe Straka, Wheatland; and two brothers Herbert, Mountain View and Otto Sudik, Sentinel. Burial will be in the National Czechoslovakian cemetery
[Printed Daily Oklahoman Dec. 13, 1945 Page 6]
Daughter of Vincent and Mary Valish Sudik buried National Czech Cemetery
Cecilia "Sis"Straka was born in Schuyler, Nebraska on December 22, 1901 to Vincent and Mary Sudik She passed away Thursday, September 29, 1994. She was the widow of Joe J. Straka, a lifelong resident of Moore, a member of Eastern Star and the American Legion Auxilliary. Cecilia was a very giving and loving mother, grandmother and friend. She was preceeded in death by a daughter Elizabeth Ann, three brothers-Otto, Orie, and Herb Sudik.
She is survived by a son, Vernon Straks and his wife June; daughter Frieda Miskovsky and her husband Jim; five grandchildren: Jerry, Jana Morris and her husband Jeff, Jo Anna Bohrofen and her husband Brent, Keith Miskovsky and his wife Ale;, Janell Crosbie and her husband Chris; three great grandchilren, Adam and Courtney Crosbie and Tyler Morris. Graveside services will be 1:30pm Saturday October 1, 1994 at the Czechoslovakian National Cemetery. Handled by Vondel L. Smith & Sons Mortuary.
[Daily Oklahoman Friday, September 30, 1994 Page 130]
Herbert V. Sudik
Herbert V. Sudik
Nov 2, 1911 -- Nov 13, 1985
Zula M. Sudik
Sept 1, 1913 -- Dec 9, 1991
Son of Vincent and Mary Valish Sudik buried National Czech Cemetery
Herbert Vincent Sudik, age 74 of OKC passed away November 13, 1985 at Baptist Hospital. He was born east of Moore on November 2, 1911, and married Zula Marie Chandler April 13, 1934. Survived by his wife; a daughter and son-in-law Nancy and Richard Walls of Guthrie, OK; son, Danny Herbert Sudik of OKC; 3 grandchildren, Ricky Watts and his wife Patricia of Edmond, OK, Cheryl Watts of Guthrie, OK and Vince Watts of Guthrie, sister, Cecilia Straka of OKC; brother, Otto Sudik of Sentinal, OK.
Mr. Sudik was a retired rancher and farmer in the Stratford OK area, and has owned an auto parts business in Mt. View, OK. He was also retired from the Barnes Real Estate Co. Mr. Sudik was a 3rd Degree Mason and belonged to the (ZCBJ) Czech Lodge of the Western Franternal Life Assn. Graveside services 10 a.m. Friday at the Czech National cemetery, SW 44th and Villa, directed by Vondel L. Smith & Sons Mortuary
[Daily Oklahoman, Thursday, November 14, 1985 Page 66]